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Cyclist fined £75 for riding outside London tube station – but park your bike there and it could set you back £50,000

Islington Council puts fly tipping warnings on bikes secured to railings at Highbury Corner pedestrian zone

A cyclist has told road.cc of how he was fined £75 for riding through a pedestrian zone outside a tube and Overground station in north London – but a closer look at the location suggests he got off comparatively lightly, with notices attached to bicycles parked on railings there threatening fines of up to £50,000 for fly-tipping.

Highbury Corner (9)

Highbury Corner in the London Borough of Islington has undergone a major transformation in recent years, with three sides of the former gyratory converted to two-way traffic, and segregated cycle lanes (as shown below) in the CGI image and map from the initial consultation.

Highbury Corner CGI
Highbury Corner changes

Meanwhile, the western side, by a Wetherspoons pub, a branch of Pret, The Famous Cock Tavern and the entrance to Highbury & Islington station, has been closed off to traffic to become a pedestrianised zone, with cycling banned.

Highbury Corner (1)

In a forum post last Thursday evening accompanied by a link to the location on Google Maps, road.cc reader Unalteu said: “A few weeks ago I was on a little cycle when I passed through a small square that I always go on and every other cyclist going on that square does not dismount.

“My point is everyone is cycling ,and while ‘the nothing better to do douche’ officer was writing the fine there where about five cyclists going past us on their bikes which I pointed out, there’s only a very small inconspicuous sign with the cycle in a red square thing.”

He said that when the letter arrived confirming the fixed penalty notice, his surname was misspelt and his date of birth was shown as April instead of September.

Asking for advice on whether he should fight the fine or ignore it, he added: “Needless to say I don’t want to pay £75 for this nonsense as [I’m] in UC [Universal Credit] also and it’s utterly ridiculous.”

Plenty of advice was forthcoming in the replies, including from local cyclist MatthewN5 who quickly identified that there is a problem with the remodelled junction – namely that the pedestrianised area removes the direct route along the A1 from Upper Street to Holloway Road.

It’s a particular issue for northbound cyclists and as a result many continue to follow the desire line through the pedestrianised area in front of the station – as do a  number of cyclists heading south. The result? Well, no-one’s happy.

Highbury Corner (3)

“Lots of Islington people complained when the design was first put out to comment that cyclists had to go the long way round the junction instead of taking the short and now traffic-free way,” MatthewN5 explained, “but to no avail.”

He continued: “As it is, this big area of vomit stained paving has become a problem exactly as we foresaw, with drunks spilling out of the two pubs, a clutter of delivery mopeds and poor drainage. It's also the most commented on place in Islington’s Commonplace consultation on low traffic neighbourhoods, with dozens (if not hundreds) of complaints about people cycling through... so you've been unlucky to come across the policing in response to that.”

It so happened that we were passing through Highbury & Islington station on the Overground the day after Unalteu posted on the forum, so we decided to stop and have a look for ourselves.

The no cycling signs he mentioned are circular rather than square, but the point stands – they are small and attached to bollards at around waist height and especially at busy times, can be easy to miss.

Highbury Corner (2)

In the 15 minutes or so we were at the junction, we saw a number of cyclists cut through the pedestrian zone, especially coming from Holloway Road into Upper Street – but almost without exception they were doing so responsibly, and we did not observe any cases of obvious conflict between people on foot and those on bikes.

It did strike us that there would have been plenty of space to put a cycle lane between the footway and the grassed-over area called Highbury Island that the gyratory used to encompass, which does seem to be a missed opportunity – and it was there that we spotted the fly-tipping warning signs attached to several bikes locked to the railings.

Highbury Corner (6)

Now, it’s true that there is ample cycle parking nearby – in late 2014, Islington Council installed double rows of bike stands at the top of Highbury Station Road (much to the confusion in the early weeks of rat-running drivers, with the former layout shown in the May 2014 Google Street View image below).

Highbury Corner (8)
Highbury Station Road (via Google Street View)

Still, a potential fine of up to £50,000 for locking your bike up to some railings does seem a bit steep to us – and just imagine the insult to injury that might add to the poor owner of this bike, stripped bare of pretty much everything that could be removed …

Highbury Corner (7)

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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32 comments

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Deloren | 2 years ago
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Don't know why they used the bike sign with the red circle around it?. Anyone could easily  take that sign for anything ie: Bikes Only or Bike Zone or Caution Bikes around etc

It would have been simpler to get a proper No cycling sign like one of these. That is clear! 

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mdavidford replied to Deloren | 2 years ago
1 like
Deloren wrote:

Don't know why they used the bike sign with the red circle around it?

Er, because that's the proper sign for a cycling prohibition.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/58170307ed915d61c5000000/...

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Rapha Nadal | 2 years ago
1 like

Couldn't he have just ridden off instead of stopping to engage with the person issuing the fine?! 

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HoarseMann | 2 years ago
3 likes

It's a missed opportunity to have a more direct cycle path on the park side of the pedestrianised area.

You see this a lot in urban planning, trying to keep cyclists away from areas where pedestrians might want to mill about, but this is wrong. If a clearly defined cycle track is provided, then cyclists wafting past is actually not detrimental to the tranquility/esthetics of an urban scene in the same way motorised traffic would be.

This is a high transit area, I think the urban planner has forgotten this slightly and tried to create a space that people want to spend time in, rather than travel through quickly.

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quiff | 2 years ago
1 like

"Lots of Islington people complained when the design was first put out to comment that cyclists had to go the long way round the junction instead of taking the short and now traffic-free way."

I used to commute through Highbury Corner, both before the remodelling (when it was a gyratory) and after. The remodelling created separate areas for pedestrians, motor vehicles and cyclists (in a segregated lane) so, to be clear, the long way round is also traffic-free. Ok, so it's a little bit irritating that if travelling from Upper Street to Holloway Road you now have to go round three sides of the square rather than one, but it takes a matter of seconds. Isn't this the sort of "you held me up for 10 seconds" behaviour we berate motorists for?               

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hawkinspeter replied to quiff | 2 years ago
5 likes
quiff wrote:

Ok, so it's a little bit irritating that if travelling from Upper Street to Holloway Road you now have to go round three sides of the square rather than one, but it takes a matter of seconds. Isn't this the sort of "you held me up for 10 seconds" behaviour we berate motorists for?               

As a counter-point, active travel should be made as appealing as possible and most of the time that involves going the shortest, quickest route and certainly one of the attractions of going by foot or cycle (or even scooter) is that you can take "short-cuts" and have a similar (ideally quicker) journey time to an equivalent motor journey. Too many times, cyclist are routed the long way round and the quickest routes reserved for motors (not particularly relevant with this example though).

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quiff replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
2 likes

I agree with the principle, but as I've just posted below (but after you replied to me), in this example the cyclists get a segregated lane and 2 fewer sets of traffic lights than motorists following the same route. It is very definitely quicker to cycle through here than to drive, even following the prescribed route. 

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JohnAc | 2 years ago
1 like

Thank goodness someone has been fined, I'm sorry for the individual but it gets the message out that this is a pedestrian only area to the people that cannot read the signs. People cycling through that area is a massive problem.  It's very busy and for people with poor sight and poor mobility, the weaving bikes are a problem. There are persistent complaints on social media and in the local paper about cyclists using that space when there is great nearby infrastructure that we had asked for.
This used to be a terrible roundabout to cycle around, you had to cross through fast moving traffic.  There are now excellent segregated tracks on both sides of the road; it is now safe enough for an 8 year old.  It’s NOT a 'particular issue for northbound cyclists', there are no lights so there's only another 10-20 seconds added to the journey. Southbound cyclists do have to wait for two bike lights. 
MatthewN5 says we knew that people would cycle on the pavement.  Yes we did but the design is a compromise as usual. 

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armb replied to JohnAc | 2 years ago
1 like
JohnAc wrote:

Thank goodness someone has been fined, I'm sorry for the individual but it gets the message out that this is a pedestrian only area to the people that cannot read the signs.

Might better signs be a better way to address that problem?

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quiff replied to armb | 2 years ago
2 likes
armb wrote:
JohnAc wrote:

Thank goodness someone has been fined, I'm sorry for the individual but it gets the message out that this is a pedestrian only area to the people that cannot read the signs.

Might better signs be a better way to address that problem?

This is Streetview approaching in the relevant direction, from Upper Street, taken July 2021. There seems to be one no cycling sign up already, but arguably not in a place it's easy to see on the cyclist's line of approach (shown by arrows). I imagine placing signs on the bollards is indeed an effort to improve signage and now they're enforcing.  

 

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quiff replied to JohnAc | 2 years ago
1 like
JohnAc wrote:

It’s NOT a 'particular issue for northbound cyclists', there are no lights so there's only another 10-20 seconds added to the journey. Southbound cyclists do have to wait for two bike lights. 

Totally agree that it's a matter of seconds added to the journey, but actually if you follow the segregated lane northbound, then there is one set of lights you could get held at going the long way round, which those cutting through on the pedestrianised area will bypass (motorists going the same way get three sets). Going southbound for cyclists there are four sets between Holloway Rd and Upper St.    

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JN35000 | 2 years ago
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I wonder if the sign complies with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/362/contents/made. The sign is stuck to a round pillar, so the sign itself is no longer circular as the regulations require. Also, perhaps it doesn't conform to the guidance on mounting height or illumination.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to JN35000 | 2 years ago
1 like

Although there is also an unmentioned sign on a pole in the background in the picture right underneath the texts that mention they are only on the bollards. There is also a similar pole-mounted one the other end as well according to Streetview. 

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Moist von Lipwig replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
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AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

Although there is also an unmentioned sign on a pole in the background in the picture right underneath the texts that mention they are only on the bollards. There is also a similar pole-mounted one the other end as well according to Streetview. 

As I thought, then the restriction starts at that point imo and forget whats on the bollards if they're less that 270 dia. But also, the cyclist about to ride into the area is nowhere near it, it looks angled to be visible to the left but theres nothing to stop a sign being placed on the left hand side too, which would be sensible given the width of that route.  (on carriageways you only place signs on the right when it is not possible to site them on the left, same principle should apply off carriagreway for common sense as although we don't walk on the left, the condition is in your head if you're a driver/cyclist)

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Moist von Lipwig replied to JN35000 | 2 years ago
1 like
JN35000 wrote:

I wonder if the sign complies with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/362/contents/made. The sign is stuck to a round pillar, so the sign itself is no longer circular as the regulations require. Also, perhaps it doesn't conform to the guidance on mounting height or illumination.

That was the first thing I thought of on seeing this.  As far as I can make out those signs are not legal - due to size.  TSRGD has the minimum permitted size (column 4) as being 270 - when used on a bollard. (The references in part 4 and schedule 3 have no effect)(the latter 2 columns)).

I'm going to guess there may be some other signs around - it seems like a pretty big things to miss.  Then you have to start questioning their appropriate position and visibility if they weren't obvious to someone going out to photograph the site.

 

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Moist von Lipwig replied to Moist von Lipwig | 2 years ago
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Couldn't post 2 images in the same post...

Traffic signs manual Chapter 3 has some blurb about what the uses are, but the relevant bit is this.

 

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spen replied to JN35000 | 2 years ago
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It's diagram 951 and can range in size from 150 to 600 mm

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Moist von Lipwig replied to spen | 2 years ago
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spen wrote:

It's diagram 951 and can range in size from 150 to 600 mm

I thought it would be 100mm as per 956 etc which is very common at that size on bollarsd but TSRGD says otherwise, can't find anyhting to take it below 270mm.

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Global Nomad | 2 years ago
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As someone who regulalry comes through from the A1200 - bottom right on the diagrams - and onto holloway road and reverse, its clearly less of an issue.  It does seem heavy headed and unecessary as the article suggests. It is alwasy a very busy area for people and traffic (and bikes) and the junction revision has done a lot to be more balanced and less car centric...

If there is a clear sign saying do not lock your bike, that would work better. And fines for dangerous riding would be more appropriate, I do wonder if a cycle lane through the pedestrain section would cause more conflict with riders not slowing or being cautious. 

As in other parts of London I wonder if pedestrains ever get fined for walking in cycle lanes, especially ones with no pedestrians signs. 

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mdavidford replied to Global Nomad | 2 years ago
4 likes
Global Nomad wrote:

I wonder if pedestrains ever get fined for walking in cycle lanes, especially ones with no pedestrians signs. 

There wouldn't be any basis for that, given that there's no legal bar on walking in a cycle lane (or the roadway more generally). I've never seen a lane with 'no pedestrians' signs - if they exist (perhaps they're a London-specific thing?) I would guess they're only advisory.

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RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
2 likes

I use the this route quite regularly as part of my commute in and out of the city. Im not fussed about having to go the 'long way' round but i have quite often coasted slowly up onto the pavement outside of the station via the pedestrian crossing to pick up a copy of the evening standard on my way home. If its super busy there though I will dismount and pick my bike up and walk my way to the paper stand.

Ive done this pretty much since theyve had the place re-done and never had any issues.

What does annoy me though is quite often there is an uber rider who has his bicycle locked up to the railing on the approach from upper street making an already narrow path even more narrow because i have to either dodge him or his handlebars as i go past. Occasionally its just his bike there, other occasions he's sitting there with his back against the rails having a break.

And he's exactly on the corner where the closed off cycle path begins and goes around the park.

I make sure to give him a rather loud hello every time he's there as i go past.... so if youre reading this. HELLO and please find elsewhere to park your bike and take a rest.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
2 likes

On the original thread I commented I wondered if they ticket all the scooters waiting outside McD's? Especially as they seem to be on all the pavement.  Now I wonder do they stick the 50k stickers on them as well. 

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RoubaixCube replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
1 like

IMO they should be ticketed if they are there. because there is actually a place for them to park their mopeds slightly further up the road on upper street in front of KFC. 

Maybe have more facilities for uber cyclists to lock their bikes somewhere? but thats all down to the council to put in however.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to RoubaixCube | 2 years ago
3 likes

Check the streetview Quif posted further up in Threaded View. Definitely two food motorscooters just left on the pavement with no riders. More of a hazard then any of the bikes attached to the railings. 

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quiff replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
2 likes

Agreed. I was informed this week by an Uber Eats scooterist that his mounting the pavement and riding towards me was "not [his] problem, bro."  

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Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
4 likes

I had a couple of pints in that 'Spoons (avoid BTW it's really horrid though the Guinness isn't bad) a few weeks back on a Friday night whilst waiting for Mrs H as we were going to a gig at the Union Chapel over the road. I sat by the front window and watched dozens of cyclists ride across that plaza sensibly and without any conflict with pedestrians, I thought what a good example of shared space, shows how people can coexist. I walked up from the bus stop from the south and (admittedly it was a dark and rainy evening and I wanted to get into the pub as quickly as possible) I didn't notice the no cycling signs either. Maybe it's different at other times but from what I saw the authorities are policing a problem that isn't actually a problem. 

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jh2727 replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

the authorities are policing a problem that isn't actually a problem. 

I can't imagine the sort that are a problem hang around and give their details so that they can be ticketed.

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Owd Big 'Ead | 2 years ago
3 likes

Clueless.
What's that 30 Sheffield bike stands down a side street, an absolute paradise for bike thieving scum, plus an additional dozen or so on the opposite side of the A1.
Hardly the best facilities in the world, although vastly superior to anything in my neck of the woods.
Having viewed Google maps I can't actually work out where the railings are, they certainly don't appear to be any closer to the station, so perhaps the council ought to wonder why it is that cyclists choose to park there rather than the pretty crappy facilities provided.
It's not rocket science.

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wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
5 likes

I'd be interested to see the fly tipping fines tested in court for a bike parked which the owner obviously intends to recover.

If succesful, it could be applied to all illegally parked cars as well?

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Sriracha | 2 years ago
12 likes

Do they threaten drivers with a £50,000 fine for illegally dumping their cars on pavements or double yellows etc?

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